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Fishing for Whoppers

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10/6/11

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Page 307

FISHING FOR WHOPPERS by Henry Wolff, Jr.

Whoppers come in many forms, everything from a hamburger to a big fish, but I happen to be particularly fond of the kind that are measured not by taste or size but in the telling, such as the stories that can be heard around a table on a lazy afternoon in a country tavern—or at a fish camp like the one at Indianola that the old fisherman Ed Bell operated for many years.

Known in his time as one of the best tall tale tellers on the

Texas Coast, one example would be a story that Bell always credited to a friend, Tex Wilson. It seems that Wilson and his wife had been fishing in some fairly deep water when their boat bogged down.

“It had to be four feet of water for it not to kick up any mud,” Bell explained in telling the story. “All at once it just stalled and ol’ Tex couldn’t figure it out since there weren’t any logs or anything there to stop a boat. That was when his wife looked over the bow of the boat and said, ‘Good Lord, Tex, cut that thing off and come here and look a minute.’ He did and there was a big ol’ flounder with his back just flush with the top of the water.

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2. Madden Men: Masculinity, Race, and the Marketing of a Video Game Franchise

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Thomas P. Oates

IN AUGUST 2012, AS THE RELEASE OF EA SPORTSMADDEN NFL 13 video game approached, a months-long marketing blitz peaked with a series of advertisements featuring actor Paul Rudd and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. In the campaign, the two are presented as close, lifelong friends, whose bond is cemented by periodic Madden NFL marathons. The ads are clearly presented with tongue firmly in cheek. The friendship between Rudd and Lewis is offered as a whimsical premise. Rudd is a recognizable film and television actor, best known for roles playing middle-class white professionals. While appearing to be reasonably fit, he would never be mistaken for an NFL player, and though his movies are frequently about masculine themes (see, for example, I Love You, Man; The 40-Year Old Virgin; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), he has never played the role of an action hero. Lewis, meanwhile, is black, was raised in poverty by a single mother in Lakeland, Florida, and was a major NFL star at the time, and hence a visible representative of hegemonic masculinity. The joke turns on the premise that despite the seemingly unbridgeable gaps separating affluence from poverty, white from black, icons of masculinity from the average guy, Rudd and Lewis are improbably buddies. Their friendship goes back to the cradle, as Rudd explains in the first ad in the series: “Oh, man, Ray and I have known each other our whole lives. We grew up together. Best friends!” The rest of the campaign shows the two friends playing the video game, engaging in verbal dueling, boasting, and performing other acts that characterize a certain kind of friendly masculine competition.

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16 Loving Revolution: Same-Sex Marriage and Queer Resistance in Monica Palacios’s Amor y Revolución

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MARIVEL T. DANIELSON

The brilliant campaigning and historic outcome of the 2008 United States presidential election resonated on local and global levels, shattering—in the views of many—the glass ceilings hovering just above the heads of people of color in the United States. Yet amidst the echoes of celebration, a multitude of voters watched in disbelief as the passing of California Proposition 8 stripped away the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry—a right recognized by the state Supreme Court in May 2008. For nearly six months, queer couples across the state had enjoyed equal access to the rite and rights of marriage before this proposition reversed the historic court ruling.1 Los Angeles–based Chicana writer and performer Monica Palacios staged her dissenting voice in the form of protest performance. Palacios’s treatment of same-sex marriage and Proposition 8 first appeared in an updated version of her one-woman show Greetings from a Queer Señorita that ran for four weeks in Santa Ana, CA, in summer 2008.2 In October 2008 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA, Palacios merged the new pieces on same-sex marriage from Greetings to create Amor y Revolución, a silly, sex-laced, and politically charged romp through this defining political milieu for queer Californians.3 From political propaganda to popular reception, Palacios’s performances confront the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer4 rights through the reinscribed metaphor of revolution—a war and a fight for the right to love. Transcending the language of violence and combat, Palacios’s works seize a productive theatrical space of revolutionary love in the face of hateful media representation, legislation, and political campaigning. Invoking Augusto Boal and Gloria Anzaldúa’s living discourse on theater and theory, I will discuss how Palacios’s performances fashion an interstitial space of queer reinscription, coalition, and inspiration for queer and Latina/o communities.

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14 The Buy In

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Everyone was aware that Ireland’s second opponent, the Holland Dutchmen, would be a far sterner test for the Spuds and Pete Gill than Spurgeon had been. In fact, they were likely to be one of the most difficult opponents on the entire schedule. Holland had several returning starters, led by big men Butch Fenneman and Bill Buse, and many experts in the area favored them not only to replace Ireland atop the Patoka Valley Conference but to be a genuine small-school threat to capture the Huntingburg Sectional title. Thus, Pete Gill began ruminating on strategy against them almost as soon as he returned home from Spurgeon.

It helped that his support among students and townsfolk was now growing, even if only incrementally, in the wake of the victory over Spurgeon. The hitchhiking stunt had not only motivated his team but had also won him a few new fans, who found him at least to be more entertaining than his predecessor. Whether he was truly a better basketball coach would remain an open question.

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Crime in a Small Town

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Crime in a Small Town

I live in the rural Northwest, where, contrary to popular belief, a small town can have problems with crime. I’m going to tell about some of them.

Before I get into the actual crimes we have to deal with here, I need to mention one curious thing. We don’t seem to have many problems with kids or teenagers. It’s an odd experience to walk up to a 17-year-old kid whose hair is sticking straight up in multi-colored spikes, his body covered with tattoos, his head filled with metal piercings, and ask him how to get to the nearest Starbucks, and he responds pleasantly and eagerly, even calling you “sir.” This usually happens. And the kid isn’t playing you for a fool; it’s the way the kids act around here. I never got that kind of response in California. Another thing that may have something to do with kids is that there never seems to be any graffiti anywhere, even on bathroom walls in gas stations. This is pretty much true throughout the area. The biggest graffiti I’ve seen is on the walls of a tunnel where the culprits use a wet towel to write their messages in the grime on the tunnel walls. The messages will say something like, “I love you Sarah,” “Support the Queen of the Netherlands,” or “US out of Oregon.” The messages last only a few days, however, because the cleanup crews wash down the walls frequently.

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Chapter 7 - The West as It Ought to Have Been (1950–1953)

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The West as It Ought to Have Been (1950–1953)

“It looks like these boys have reached their maturity as riders along with the coming of age of the show.”

—Albert Moore, 1950

THE 1950s started out with an almost heretical discussion to hold the TPR in Dallas, the first time it would be held outside of Huntsville. East Texas, from Dallas south (including Huntsville), has consistently tried to co-opt the legacy of the cowboy's West. Visit Dallas in the twenty-first century and one would think the city played an integral role in the historic cattle trade, with so many business references and advertisements tied to its spurious past. This has not been lost on modern critics, with one sagely suggesting that the recent construction of a sculpture depicting a cattle herd traveling through Dallas would have been more realistic if it featured instead a herd of Neiman-Marcus department store bags. When it came to the cattle culture of the nineteenth-century West, Dallas's western neighbor, Fort Worth, played a much more important role, while Dallas had more in common with the Deep South and television's Ewing family than cowboys and cattle. This is not exactly modern revisionism, since even Dallas newspapers in 1950 covered the debate over where the West began, with one headline chiming in “West Begins Here during Prison Rodeo,” but began with the comments that “People from Fort Worth, who claim the West begins in their city are clamoring to come to Dallas to see a rodeo” in the coming week.1

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9. Ideology, It’s in the Game: Selective Simulation in EA Sports’ NCAA Football

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Meredith M. Bagley and Ian Summers

ON JULY 9, 2013, THE LEADING SPORTS STORY IN TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, a college town obsessed with its university’s football team, was not predictions for a third straight national championship, not news of yet another five-star recruit, nor updates on injuries and summer training sessions. Instead, inch-high headlines announced “GAME ON: EA Sports Releases NCAA Football 14.”1 Above the text, a color screen shot from the game featured an offensive player in the familiar crimson-and-white jersey breaking tackles on the way to a presumed touchdown. The would-be tacklers happened to be in white and maroon, the colors of Texas A&M, the only team to hand Alabama a loss in its 2012 national championship season. Though completely digital, fabricated, and based on advanced computational formulas, the video game redemption offered by the photo perfectly illustrates the power of simulation-based digital games such as EA Sports’ NCAA Football.

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26 Fame

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For the third time in nine days, bedlam reigned on Elmer Loehr’s fine Huntingburg hardwood. But it’s doubtful he suffered as much as did the Washington Hatchets, whose turn it was to stand by in crushed disbelief and watch as the Spuds heaped themselves on each other in mad celebration and the Ireland cheering section rushed forth again in a frenzy of uncontrollable street shoes to share a greater joy than any of them had ever thought possible. So what if they left a few scuffmarks on the floor? Any blemishes would surely be waxed out in time for the next season and the next group of celebrants.

For the most part, this celebration duplicated the ecstasy of the week before. Not that any of the revelers had specific ideas about the thing to do or really knew precisely what it was they were doing. It was all supremely spontaneous and monumentally mindless: unrestrained impromptu dancing, uncontainable laughter, tribal chanting, and, of course, the ritual hoisting of heroes atop the shoulders of strong young men. Pete Gill wisely found ways to avoid being hoisted, if for no other reason than to spare the seams of his pants. As the god of the moment, the maker of the miraculous shot, Pat Schitter naturally received more adoration than anyone, although he and everyone else knew that each of the five starting (and finishing) Spuds had made his own very important and quite essential contributions to the victorious effort.

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Injuries I Have Known

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Injuries I Have Known

Injuries, and threats of injuries, are constant sources of fascination to a shoer. In the old days, horseshoers had a hard time getting life or medical insurance, so great was the risk of working with ill-mannered horses. Perhaps those old shoers had more macho pride or needed the money, but nowadays many horseshoers refuse to work with unmanageable horses. There are all kinds of restraining tricks and devices, but because these can prove dangerous to both the horse and the shoer, the best response is to tell the owner to get the horse some manners and then call. As one rusty old shoer told me, “I’m a horseshoer, not a horse trainer.” If horseshoers practice this attitude enough, word will get out to horse owners that it is their responsibility to train the horse to stand quietly during a shoeing. That way no one gets hurt.

The best time to start the horse’s training, of course, is shortly after birth. It’s easy to pick up a foal’s feet every day until it’s no longer traumatic. I always suggest owners increase the noise and the fuss around the baby so it gets used to it. You can even tap the foot gently with a hammer—anything to get baby used to someone messing with the feet. If this is done with consistency, she should stand nicely for her first trim. After all this training, if she doesn’t stand quietly, the owner might want to take a closer look at the shoer. Like children, horses sense fear, anger, and other emotions in people, and like children, they may try to get away from the source.

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19 No Somos Criminales: Crossing Borders in Contemporary Latina and Latino Music Arturo J. Aldama

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ARTURO J. ALDAMA

Anti-immigrant discourse in general and anti-Mexican hate speech and hate crimes in particular are a central piece of contemporary US political and public culture. The racist sense of entitlement by anti-immigrant xenophobes is echoed in a variety of formats including public radio, prime time news shows, and the blogosphere, and it is a central platform of many Republican senators, governors, and elected city officials such as mayors. Anti-immigrant games such as “Catch the Wetback” are the new form of political theatrics on many college campuses, and the Southern Poverty Law Center that does the Klan Watch has noted an incredible increase in hate-motivated violence toward those perceived as undocumented in the United States in the last several years.

The issues that concern me most are the arrogance of power and the absolute sense of racial entitlement that drive the supposedly fringe paramilitary nativist and neo-Nazi vigilante groups along the border and throughout the United States (which, in a loose chronology, include the Barnett Brothers, Ranch Rescue, the American Border Patrol, the Christian Identity Movement, the National Alliance, and the Minute Men) that have spread into the American mainstream. In fact, the political and public cultures of the United States carry an enormous weight of transversal racial hostility, evidenced most recently by Arizona Senate Bill 1070.1

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21 Walk Like a Man

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Pete Gill was more on edge about Winslow than he let on to anyone, except perhaps Roy Allen. He and Roy had scouted the Eskimos in a loss against Huntingburg, 61–54, one of only two victories for the Hunters all year. But Winslow was a young team, with no seniors and a squad made up almost entirely of volatile juniors, featuring good speed and streaky shooting skills. If the shots started to fall, they gained confidence with each basket. In Pete’s nightmares, the Eskimos would get hot, the Spuds would go cold, and his dream season would be shot dead in a humiliating flash the very first game of the tournament.

Adding to his worries, on Thursday the Spuds received unexpected and unwelcome word that Allen Voelkel would be unavailable for the Sectional. For several days he had been complaining of severe back pain and fatigue. Perplexed and frustrated, he and his father went first to a chiropractor, who told them the problem was not Allen’s back. Then a Jasper MD examined him and found albumen in his urine. Not a good sign.

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7 Performing Indigeneity in a South Texas Community: Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz Norma E. Cantú

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NORMA E. CANTÚ

It’s a brisk morning in early March 2009 in San Antonio, Texas, and the annual women’s march celebrating International Women’s Day is about to begin. We will march past the Alamo, past San Fernando Cathedral, past the hotels and businesses with early morning tourists and local patrons. The march will go from Travis Park to Milam Park—Anglo names for spaces that in the old days were called “plazas.” A young girl no older than twelve, dressed in a long brown cotton skirt and a red blouse with a red headband across her forehead, holds an eagle feather. She will do a water blessing before the march begins. Her father, who also has a red headband and is wearing a white cotton shirt and pants, beats a flat drum solemnly. The crowd of a couple of hundred people hushes solemnly and listens to her soft song. She dips the feather in water and sprinkles the ground. Some of us face the four directions as she sings her blessing prayer in a language we don’t understand. Could it be Coahuiltecan? That was how Fabiola, one of the organizers, introduced her—as a member of the Coahuiltecan nation. But pretty much all vestiges of the many dialects of that language that were spoken in South Texas for centuries are gone. Erased. Only scraps survive, mostly in old prayer books; the Christian prayers used to indoctrinate the native people paradoxically remain as testaments of the old language. As a child, I went to “la doctrina” to learn the Catholic prayers—in Spanish, of course. But I also went to see the matachines dance to the beat of the drum. In this chapter, I focus on the latter, the folk religious dance tradition of los matachines, as I interrogate the indigenous identity we as Chican@s identify and disidentify with in the particular area of South Texas.

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Sierra Treed

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SIERRA TREED by Lee Haile

One time, while we were building our house on the land in Tarpley and still living in a rent house in Bandera, something crazy happened. We had been working in my shop—probably making things to take to an arts and crafts show to sell. This was in the “downsizing and reorienting” phase of our life, which is a whole story in itself. Well anyway, Karen and I would work sometimes pretty late while the girls, Acayla and Sierra, would play or sleep in a corner of the shop we had fixed up for them, which simply meant that we had a blanket spread out on the ground. The house was just an idea at this time.

We finished up for that night and started home. We have twoand-a-half miles of gravel road to get from our land to the paved road going to Tarpley and then Bandera. Karen was driving the

Toyota 4-Runner so I could rest, and the girls were in the back seat. Our two Border Collie dogs were in the back behind the girls.

One of the dogs was a young dog that hadn’t had much hunting experience, so I was still trying to work with her. We were near the creek when a coon ran across the gravel road and into a mott of live oaks and young cedars not more than fifty yards across.

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The Eight-Week Syndrome

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The Eight-Week Syndrome

I’ve been shoeing horses for a lot of years and I think I’m beginning to learn some lessons about life from my customers. Horse owners come in all kinds of shapes and all kinds of attitudes and philosophies, and you can never really guess what they’ll do. I’ve developed a respect for this. But, regardless of what they do or don’t do, I’ve learned from them that life moves on. Especially in an eight-week cycle.

Let me explain. Typically, horses need to have their feet done every eight weeks. There are some bizarre exceptions to this, but generally the horseshoer shows up every eight weeks. My usual greeting to my customers has always been something like, “How’s it going?” or “How have you been?” These are not rhetorical questions. A lot of horse owners, who trust the care of their horse to the shoer, also trust the shoer with the details of their lives. Horseshoers frequently take on the role of lay therapist, sometimes just being a good listener, sometimes offering advice, sometimes strongly recommending certain actions. I’m becoming more of a listener because I’m slowly learning that advice isn’t really needed. Listening is.

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13 Lila Downs’s Borderless Performance: Transculturation and Musical Communication Brenda M. Romero

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BRENDA M. ROMERO

Suddenly, everyone is interested in Lila Downs! Her musical performances appeal to multiethnic, multilingual, and transnational audiences across hemispheres, gender boundaries, and musical cultures. These audiences include progressive academics, political activists, and radical artists with political consciences. Who is this remarkable new vocalist/ composer? Lila Downs made her debut into the mainstream with four song credits in the acclaimed film Frida,1 where she appears singing in the tango and bedside scenes. Certainly her proximity to the Frida cult via the movie has led her to capitalize on the pop cultural Frida image, as her critics are quick to notice, but Lila also claims indigenous ancestry, holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology on Oaxacan textiles, and is a musical activist. Lila Downs is the daughter of a Caucasian father and a Mixtec2 mother; she straddles the middle of a divided world. This essay celebrates Lila Downs’s artistic contributions and proposes that she offers a truly new brand of musical performance that not only represents her own journey of personal discovery but also integrates diverse musical ideas and fuses deeply layered indigenous ideas and beliefs about music with sounds and lyrical imagery. The result is truly engaging for listeners on both sides of the US–México border.

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